Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Show time

OK. We’ve run out of excuses. We’ve heard all the candidates, been told about the polls (maybe you even responded to one), and with all the TV ads, we’re starting to feel like Alex undergoing his therapy in “A Clockwork Orange.” Enough. It’s time to vote.

And we’ve been told by the various high priests and priestesses of politics and the media that it’s already been decided, regardless of the turnout. Don’t you believe that crap.

Vote. It’s your right. It’s one of the few unassailable facts of American life: Voting matters. The arrogant clucks sniping from the sidelines that “one vote doesn’t make any difference” are missing the point. When elections are decided by millions of “one votes,” guess what? Every one of those one-votes counts in the vast aggregate of what it takes to make this machine that would go of itself go at all. We are the drops that form the ocean of this democracy.

Vote. It’s your responsibility. Not to get all civics-class on you, but it’s the way our social and political machinery works, it’s the way things get done. It’s not always pretty. More often than not it makes sausage-making benign by comparison. But it’s necessary to do what’s necessary, to do what needs doing, from patching the potholes on the street where you live to fixing the holes in our federal government — if need be, by replacing the ones who put the holes there to begin with.

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There’s another, wider reason for voting; you might call it existentially enlightened self-interest: You need to be there because there are forces in this election that are counting on you not showing up to vote, forces that are building their strategies for victory around getting you to deny your own existence. Some have candidly admitted that their path to victory depends on the citizens who oppose their methods and maneuvers to simply fail to vote against those methods and maneuvers. In the plainest civic sense, to utterly not exist.

So, prove ‘em wrong. Because that’s what the vote is, in this country. Still. In spite of everything, it still works. In this country, this is how we do it. This is how we say yes and no in ways that matter, win or lose. This is where you stand up and count for something, rather than stay at home believing the punditburo when it says it’s all over but the counting. Because if you do that, that’s when you don’t count for anything.

And doesn’t modern life try to make you feel enough like that already?

Do it. If you haven’t done it before now, get that ballot in the to-do thingie holder on the kitchen table, fill it out and mail it in. Or go the traditional route; there’s still something especially American about that stand-in-line experience, for better and worse.

But seriously, take care of this business. Don’t let nobody turn you ‘round. It’s show time, and you — we — really need to show up this time. Vote — and vote your convictions, not your suspicions. Blow a bowl when you get home tonight. Eat next week. Now, today, vote. By mail or in person. Just do it. Be there. Ahora.

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